top of page

31 Days of Halloween with The Kelly Society Day 20 - Hanna McTavish

31 Days of Halloween with

The Kelly Society

Day 20

Good morning to you all!

I don’t know what time it is where you are, but as I write this, it is morning here in Clonakilty, Ireland. I am Hanna McTavish, wife of McGregor (Vivien’s Celtic combat coach). I’ll have to admit, when Vivien urged me to add a share about Samhain (Halloween), I wasn’t sure what to talk about. Then, I remembered our cherished tradition of bobbing for apples every year. My children look forward to it each October. But before I mention our tradition, I was after finding out the history of apple bobbing. So, here is a piece I found on my computer, which will fill in that gap, and I gave credit to the article and its author.

Courtesy of Mental Floss: The Fiery Halloween Tradition That Gave Us Bobbing for Apples

By: Michele Debczak

Bobbing for apples, though sometimes comparable to dunking your head in a cesspool of saliva, is a relatively harmless fall tradition. But it wasn’t always the kid-friendly activity we know today. Early versions of the game played in Britain on Halloween night lacked the tub of water, but they did include fire, hot wax, and a lot more injuries to the face.

Written recordings of Snap-Apple date back to at least the 14th century. Like bobbing for apples, the game had players catch apples in their mouths without using their hands. To make things even more difficult, apples were placed on one end of a wooden plank hung horizontally from the ceiling which was then spun in circles. Chomping at an apple as it whipped around the room was only half the challenge. At the other end of the board was a burning candle. Players who didn’t retrieve the apple in time risked getting walloped in the face with molten candle wax.

Despite its risks, Snap-Apple was a beloved part of the harvest season in England and Ireland. The tradition became so popular that it was literally synonymous with Halloween, with many people referring to October 31 as "Snap-Apple Night." In Wales, the date was sometimes called "Snotching Night" in reference to the act of snatching or "Snotching" the apples from the beam.


I’m back. I found that piece so interesting, and I do remember my mother talking about “Snap-Apple Night,” but I forgot where the nickname came from. In our house we bob for apples after we trick or treat and dance in front of the bonfires. That way the costumes don’t get wet, because inevitably, when bobbing for those floating red apples, someone always gets wet! But, that’s part of the fun.

Enjoy your holiday this October, whatever your traditions may be, and don’t forget—Samhain is magic time! Embrace the magic!

Hanna McTavish

for TKS

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page